Have you ever fallen in love with a magnificent piece of fabric and found that you just couldn't bear to cut it? Here's a way to have your fabric and wear it too.

This evening blouse, draped from a 45-inch square of fabric, is versatile and extremely flattering to nearly all figures, shows off a magnificent printed or embroidered fabric, packs like a dream and is a cinch to sew.

You need a finished, 45-inch square of fabric, preferably silk or something equally drapable. A slightly heavier fabric will work, but it won't be as fluttery or femmine.

If you can start with a large scarf that's already hemmed, you're halfway there. Otherwise, hem the raw edges, either with a "split-and-roll" edge or a conventional hem with mitered corners. I've used that technique here because the fabric had a contrasting border and I wanted to preserve it.

The only real sewing involves preparing a neatly finished slit in the center so you can pop it over your head. To do this:

1) Using tailor's chalk, draw a 13-inch line in the center of the square, being sure you're on the straight grain:

2) Cut a bias strip of matching or contrasting fabric that's 15-inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide;

3) Draw a 13-inch line in the center of this strip and pin to the square, right sides together, basting it exactly on top of the first 13-inch line you drew in the center of the square;

4) Carefully machine-stitch all around, about 1/4-inch from the chalk guide lines, using re-inforcing stitches at both ends of the mark;

5) Fold in half and, using small embroidery scissors, razor blade or seam ripper (whichever is most comfortable for your) make the beginning snip, then open and carefully cut along the chalk line to the ends of the stitching;

6) Turn the bias strip through to the wrong side of the fabric and press -- you are, in effect, making a giant buttonhole;

7) To finish it, simply roll under the raw edge of the bias strip and slip stitch in place for a finished neckline.

Wearing a body stocking or camisole with your evening skirt or pants, pop the scarf over your head, stand in front of the mirror and experiment.

The effects are different if you wear the neckline vertically. The effects are different if you wear the neckline vetically, horizontally or even diagonally. You can take a couple of tacking stitches under the arms and make fluttery, butterfly sleeves. Or you can tie the front corners around your waist in back, forming a more fitted bodice.

Be imaginative in your fabric choice. If you're using a solid, you might want to try several layers of silk chiffon in the same, related or contrasting colors for a flower peter effect.

You may own a magnificent scarf, hand-painted piece of silk, sari or other fabulous bit of ethnic fabric. Or you can always do your own. Since it's not cut up, this top lends itself to showing off a full spray of embroidered or appliqued flowers.